J.B. Pritzker to take oath as 43rd Illinois governor

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Inauguration set for Monday morning in Springfield, followed by celebration at State Fairgrounds Exposition Building

J.B. and M.K. Pritzker greet a couple of Springfield residents, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and his wife, Loretta, at an open house held Sunday in the Old State Capitol. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

J.B. and M.K. Pritzker greet a couple of Springfield residents, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and his wife, Loretta, at an open house held Sunday in the Old State Capitol. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

SPRINGFIELD — J.B. Pritzker takes the oath of office as the 43rd governor of Illinois Monday morning in Springfield.

Pritzker succeeds Gov. Bruce Rauner after beating the Republican handily in the November election.

The new governor will have Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly, but has also set himself an ambitious agenda led by the adoption of a progressive income tax, legalization of marijuana, and passing the first major capital infrastructure bill in a decade.

In marked contrast with Rauner, however, Pritzker took pains to reach out to Republican legislators last week when the 101st General Assembly was seated.

“He’s really going to do his level best to find bipartisan solutions,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday, when the Springfield resident was one of the visitors to an open house held by Pritzker and his wife, M.K., in the Old State Capitol.

Durbin said Pritzker also set himself apart from other politicians by accepting the state as a unified whole, not a collection of regional and political factions that have to be played against each other.

“I’m there to help if I can give him advice, I’m happy to do it,” Durbin said in remarks to the media before meeting the governor-elect Sunday. “But I noticed during the campaign, I didn’t have to give him advice about taking the entire state seriously.

“I’ve seen so many good candidates from Chicago never figure out downstate at all,” Durbin added. “And from the beginning J.B. Pritzker and Juliana Stratton, they were down here so frequently that they built up a following, a loyalty.

“He understands we have to stand together as a state.”

Pritzker actually emphasized that point in his final debate against Rauner last fall.

He’ll need to attract downstate conservative support on both sides of the aisle to legalize marijuana, although he’s estimated the gains to be had at $700 million a year. He’ll also need to win over skeptics — both politically and in the electorate — to change the state constitution to allow a progressive income tax, although that’s sure to be accompanied by promises of property-tax reforms. The state badly needs a boost in infrastructure, but the main question there will be how to finance the basic revenue to float the necessary bonds.

Monday’s inauguration ceremony is slated to kick off at 10:30 at the Bank of Springfield Center. Pritzker will take the oath of office as governor, and his running mate Stratton as lieutenant governor. A celebration follows later in the day at 7 at the Exposition Building at the State Fairgrounds.

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January 13, 2019 at 05:01PM

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